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The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  38,763 Ratings  ·  738 Reviews
The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman's account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty ...more
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published 1999 by Victor Gollancz (first published 1946)
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This is the first time I am reviewing a book that I have tried and failed to rate.

How do I decide on a rating anyway? Should I judge the prose? the content? the author's style of presentation? his narrative voice? the quality of the translation?
Do I even have the right to?

Awarding a star rating to this man's unbelievably harrowing and miraculous tale of surviving a war which claimed the lives of 6 million of his fellow brethren for no reason at all, seems a more sacrilegious act than calling In
Sep 12, 2016 Dem rated it really liked it
The Pianist by Written immediately after the war by survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman. This book was suppressed for decades. The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and tells the story of the horrendous events that took place in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the Jewish ghetto.

This is quite a short book but it certainly packs a punch. You can almost feel the urgency of the writer to get his story down on paper and yet the story is told in such a way that you feel a confidence and a clarity th
Diane S ☔
Nov 30, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Shelves: roadrallyteamb
As always these books are so incredibly hard to read, not just to read but to understand how these cruelties could have ever happened. This book was different in that it was not only written by someone in Poland who survived the Holocaust, but someone who probably only survived because of the help of a German officer.

Excerpts from this officer's diary are included in the back of the book as are explanatory notes tying everything together. The tome of the book is rather matter of fact, since it
I loved The Pianist for a number of reasons but the supreme reason goes to Władysław Szpilman's storytelling. Szpilman writes down the struggles which he endured in order to survive in Warsaw under the occupation of the Nazis. Władysław voice never grows bitter, neither do his emotions twist to constant abhorrence and it’s why, I find myself respecting him so admirably. His story was in no means told to invoke hatred or disgust towards Germans. His intention was not to spit out political stateme ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I've read a lot about World War II, but I'd never fully grasped the complete destruction, the utter devastation of the city of Warsaw. Hitler was like a bratty child with a toy he'd rather destroy than share with anyone else. When he knew he was going to lose the war, he ordered that Warsaw be reduced to rubble. Among the ruins there was a Jewish musician named Wladyslaw Szpilman who had managed to survive for six years, and a German named Wilm Hosenfeld who saved Szpilman's life one last time. ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hitler atamancou os ressentimentos da Alemanha derivados da capitulação da Grande Guerra. Assim sendo, propagandeou, impunemente, valores ímpios, iníquos, ferozes, sanguinários, como a formação de ghettos, remanescentes medievais, e o extermínio de raças que degenerassem da ariana.

O Pianista é o testemunho de um intelectual, de um artista e colunável polaco, que desfia as recordações latejantes desse período histórico por demais inesquecível e pungente. Não se insurge contra a superintendênc
Joana Esteves
Oct 08, 2015 Joana Esteves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, biblioteca
Um relato incrível!

Por mais livros que leia sobre o assunto, fico sempre sem palavras quando leio mais uma história, mais um relato de alguém que viveu na primeira pessoa tudo isto...
Missy J
Monument of the Umschlagplatz in Warsaw today.

I don't know how to write a review for such a horrifying account of what Wladyslaw Szpilman experienced as a Jew in Warsaw during the Holocaust. His writing is very dispassionate and precise, yet he really brought forth the horrors of the war and his daily life struggles with losing his family, hunger, stress, uncertainty and fear at that time. I was also very much inspired by how strong his instincts were in certain situations. It's incredible how d
RJ Corby
Feb 22, 2008 RJ Corby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became interested in reading "The Pianist" after seeing the excellent movie, directed by Roman Polanski, that was based on the book. After thoroughly enjoying the movie, I had very high hopes for this tome, and I was not disappointed. This book is a stunner, bringing to life the horrific conditions and brutality that Wladyslaw Szpilman endured to survive six years of Nazi brutality in Warsaw, Poland.

What's truly amazing about this book is how Szpilman tells the story with a sense of detachment
Jun 12, 2016 AMEERA rated it really liked it
best book talking about war I recommend it
Jul 13, 2016 Carmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este é o testemunho de Vladyslaw Szpilman: cidadão polaco, músico de profissão e judeu. Era também filho, irmão e amigo. Quando acabou a guerra já não tinha irmãos nem pais, e a maioria dos amigos tinha morrido às mãos dos nazis. Sofreu na pele desde os primeiros dias da invasão, foi perseguido e resistiu até aos últimos dias de aniquilação total. Assistiu à destruição da sua cidade, Varsóvia, viu os judeus confinados a um gueto imundo, sujeitos a uma imensa carnificina, desapossados dos seus be ...more
Nov 03, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wladyslaw Szpilman was a trained pianist, a Pole, and a Jew, and in The Pianist, he explains how he survived World War II in the Warsaw Ghetto. It sounds like the sort of book you'd want your kids to read in high school, so I was surprised to learn that The Pianist was a "banned" book.

You can believe the subtitle: this memoir of "one man's survival" is indeed extraordinary. The Jews within the ghetto were killed by the German police, they died of hunger, and they were gathered into cattle cars a
This book is an amazing memoir of a Jew’s survival in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Szpilman does not sound at all bitter or angry. His writing is in fact rather detached and dispassionate. The reason may be is that he wrote it shortly after the war and was still suffering all the terrible after-effects and shock.

The German officer’s diary was fascinating. What an incredible angel of a man. That’s all I have to say. The kindness of strangers so often brings me to tears. In fact, retelling his part of t
Doreen Petersen
Sep 04, 2016 Doreen Petersen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Excellent book! Great info and reading. Definitely recommend this to everyone.
Sep 10, 2016 Karolina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not possible to evaluate a personal account of losing everyone and going through hell.
First, I need to mention that I have seen the movie before reading the book, and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it changed my life, hopefully turning me into a better person. I’m at a loss of words in expressing what a masterpiece the movie is, and how Roman Polanski (a Holocaust survivor himself) is the God Almighty of directing.

With that out of the way, I’m adding that I was perfectly aware that the book couldn’t possibly be as good as this majestic movie, whereas it is a Holoca
Sep 18, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The introduction to this book by Władysław Szpilman's son Andrzej reminds the reader that his father was a musician, not a writer. Despite this, The Pianist is a powerful memoir, perhaps all the more so because it is written in this honest, guileless way.

It is a slim volume but includes all of the horrifying details of the Warsaw Ghetto that you may have seen in the film version of The Pianist, starring Adrien Brody. I was quietly pleased that the director Roman Polanski (himself a survivor of
Ahmad Sharabiani
Smierc miasta = The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45, Władysław Szpilman
عنوان: پیانیست : دفتر خاطرات سالهای 1939 تا 1945 میلادی؛ نویسنده: ولادیسلاو اشپیلمان؛ ژرژ پطرسی؛ تهران، انتشارات ماهی؛ 1393؛ در 228 ص؛ شابک: 9789642091980؛ موضوع: جنگ جهانگیر دوم - قتل عام یهودیان - سرگذشتنامه موسیقیدانان یهودی لهستان - قرن 20 م
عنوان فیلم: پیانیست؛ کارگردان: رومن پولانسکی؛ تهیه کننده: آلبرت س. رودی؛ نویسنده کتاب: ولادیسلاو اشپیلمن؛ نویسنده فیلمنامه: رونالد هاروود ؛ با
This memoir may be compact in size, and simplistic in delivery, but it’s colossal in historical and admonitory significance.

Szpilman’s terrifying (and miraculous) five-year experience during the Nazi’s siege of Warsaw and annihilation of Jews - beaten senseless, hunted down like an animal, fleeing for his life, hiding wherever he could, isolated, and starving– is as horrific as it is cautionary and hopeful.

I’ve read many books on WWII and the Holocaust – fiction and non-fiction. Each presentin
Filipe Ronzani
Aug 26, 2016 Filipe Ronzani rated it it was amazing
Após finalmente ter tido uma aula de história sobre a segunda guerra mundial, sinto-me cada vez mais compelido a ler sobre a guerra, especialmente sobre o holocausto. Não sei dizer oque me compele a tal ato, talvez seja a surrealidade dos atos cometidos contra seres humanos iguais, motivados grande parte por ideais,ou talvez seja pelos relatos serem uma sombria lição da história.
O livro em si é um relato do pianista Wladyslaw Szpilman de Varsóvia, na Polônia, que sobrevive à perseguição terrív
Sep 07, 2016 Brenda rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust, library
I can definitely tell why this was made into a movie. It was full of sadness, betrayal, turmoil, frustration, and most of the book takes place with the protagonist in hiding in an attic! One of the best Holocaust books I've read because I truly expressed his emotions.
Imen Benyoub
This is the extraordinary survival story of Polish pianist Władysław Szpilman during the second world war in occupied Warsaw, when the Nazis entered Poland and the beginning of the endless cycle of horror for the Jewish population "half a million in the city"..Szpielman writes about the ghetto and how his family endured the harsh inhuman conditions in this crowded, barricaded part of the city, than the deportations of jews to concentration camps, how he was saved and separated from his family an ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Catarina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catarina by: Inês Beato
Depois de ter lido tanta coisa sobre o Holocausto, achei que a história d’ “O Pianista” não me chocaria. Felizmente, chocou, o que mostra que a minha mente e o meu coração ainda não se habituaram a ler sobre todas as atrocidades cometidas durante a 2ª Guerra Mundial.

Szpilman conta-nos a sua história de forma pouco afectada e humilde, como se não estivesse a sentir e a recordar tudo aquilo de que fala. Não chegou a ver um dos campos de concentração e extermínio de Hitler, mas toda a sua família p
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2012 Karo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: manfic, memoir
I read The Pianist in the original Polish, but the book will read well in any language. As Szpilman's son writes in the preface to the book, his father was not a writer, and the memoir is a testament to that fact. There is no overly flowerly language, no planned-out metaphors. The Pianist is simply a factual account of the mirculous events which lead to Wladyslaw Szpilman surviving first the Warsaw ghetto and later hiding out in Warsaw for years until the war ended. I learned quite a bit about l ...more
Dec 03, 2013 Debby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a little hard to read this after having watched the superlative film, as it was not nearly so dramatic, and I had trouble not quibbling with the license that the filmmakers took with Szpilman's story. Given what Szpilman went through, it's a surprisingly unemotional narrative. It helps to know that it was written fairly soon after the war ended, when he may still have been feeling rather detached from his experience (as he would have to have been to have survived). The most affecting part ...more
Jun 12, 2016 Joanna rated it it was amazing
I wept when I read this. It is unique among Holocaust stories in that the author survived, and that he saved himself not through heroics but through luck and happenstance. It is a powerful testament to what he witnessed. I think everyone should read this.

I will also say that this is one of the rare books where the book is exceptional and the movie made from it is even more so. Here's Roger Ebert's review:

I think everyone should read, and then watch.
These kind of true stories are so hard to review! the story is fast to read as just over 200 pages. My only complaint if you want to call it that, was it read more like "matter of fact" with little emotion. But knowing this man's story, this was written right after the war. So I assume he wanted to get his story on paper as soon as possible. I would only hope the world would never want any one to suffer as the suffers that went on during that war.
Apr 19, 2015 Mmars rated it liked it
Really 3.5

This is a short account of one Jewish man’s survival in Warsaw during WWII. According to the epilogue, he wrote his account down shortly after the ordeal had ended. It is told in a very matter-of-fact manner, yet I still found it compelling.

His survival is no less than remarkable. Many, many times one other action by either the oppressors or him would have meant certain death. Not only this, but he spent several years in near isolation. Often, his only contact or news of the outside
Aug 03, 2012 AlGrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
يا إلهي .. كمية الفظائع التي فعلها الألمان لليهود ! التشريد و القتل و الاظطهاد ، ربّاه ، كان مبكيا فعلا
الكتاب/الفيلم هم سيرة شخصية للموسيقي اليهودي شيزلمان .. حيث يوضح الكتاب مقدار اظطهاد الإلمان و نظام هتلر لليهود ، بعد أن تشرد شيزلمان الرجل المسالم لسنوات ، و بعد أن قتل ما قتل من اليهود بوحشية مطلقة وظل يعيش وحده في شقه مقفلة دون أن يخرج أو يصدر أي صوت لسنين خوف أن يجده الجنود الألمان .. ربّاه ، هل يمكن تصور الرعب النفسي الذي كان يمر به ؟

كتاب سيرة و كتاب تاريخي ، جميل حقا حقا حقا ، أنصح جدا
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Polish pianist, composer and memoirist.
Szpilman is widely known as the protagonist of the Roman Polański film The Pianist , which is based on his autobiographical book recounting how he survived the Holocaust. In November 1998 Władysław Szpilman was honoured by the president of Poland with a Kommandor Order with a Star of Polonia Restituta.
More about Władysław Szpilman...

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“And now I was lonelier, I supposed, than anyone else in the world. Even Defoe's creation, Robinson Crusoe, the prototype of the ideal solitary, could hope to meet another human being. Crusoe cheered himself by thinking that such a thing could happen any day, and it kept him going. But if any of the people now around me came near I would need to run for it and hide in mortal terror. I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.” 41 likes
“Lying is the worst of all evils. Everything else that is diabolical comes from it.” 21 likes
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